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Original SoupMan, Tysons Corner Mall


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Tyson's Corner. Not the charm and ambience of, say, Old Town or even Herndon or Ballston.

http://www.originalsoupman.com/home.aspx

On Friday I was fortunate to be able to attend the taping of an upcoming show for the TV Food Network in the Chelsea Market in Manhattan. This is a two block long 100+ year old nondescript red brick warehouse building which has survived to house a dozen or so artisan cooks/producers/chefs who have stalls or kitchens flanking either side of a cement walk leading back into the bowels of the building where the TV Food Network has their studios.

Along the walk there is a creamery, bagelry, wine cellar, spice kitchen and soup kitchen among others. A group of fifty or so were penned into a cattle like grouping halfway back at a stall called "Hale and Hearty" which specialized in 100+ different soups, salads and house made sandwiches on locally baked focaccia. After the taping, sated from four + hours of watching food preparation and eager consumption-by others, I found myself at the entrance to the "Cattle Pen." Pushing, shoving, acting for all the world like a native born New Yorker, in five minutes I found myself in front of a 20 year who had the power of God and a soup ladle in his calloused hand. Piggishly I chose two of the 15+ soups offered that day, disdaining a salad which was tossed in an adjacent queue or the half focaccia that a few ordered. Victoriously, I took my two containers to a flank of flat topped trashcans adjacent to the entrance (there were no available seats at the formica tables provided) and staked out my hard earned space.

Both pints of soup were extraordinary! Superior to the Bread Line! Actually, far superior to the Bread Line which is the local outlet most similar to this. Could I have stumbled onto an outpost of the infamous "Soup Nazi" from Seinfeld fame? I really wondered: the fifty plus clustered at the pen like arrangement competing for a bowl of soup plus the soup itself which would have done Kinkead proud.

Today, back at home, I started playing with the internet. Hale and Hearty has a website: www.haleandhearty.com . No, it is not the infamous Seinfeld inspired soup kitchen. I wondered if this was a "rip off?" An enormously successful ripoff. I went to my old standby, Zagat. Trustworthy Zagat. No, not for an opinion. Just to see if there was another "soup kitchen" of note in Manhattan and Zagat seemed like an efficient way to do this. There, under "soup" was Hale and Hearty. After ten or so entrees (for each of their Manhattan locations) was another called "The Original Soup Man."

I clicked on it. It WAS the Seinfeld inspired Soup Kitchen!!!! There was the line and yes, they were standing in the rain, just like the television show claimed. And then I noticed it: they were franchising. Franchising!!!! Hmm............. I like soup; a lot. I also thought I would like to have the omniscient power that one has at the head of a pen, doling out soup to the favored of the flock Yeah, I could get into that! Favoring my own flock!

I clicked on their map: Virginia.

Would you believe that a location popped up: Tyson's Corner!!! Damn. I know nothing else but the Seinfeld inspired soup kitchen infamously referred to as the "Soup Nazi" is coming to Tysons and someone else will tend the daily flock. Someone, not me.

I wonder if Hale and Hearty franchises?

Edited by Joe H
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On Friday I was fortunate to be able to attend the taping of an upcoming show for the TV Food Network in the Chelsea Market in Manhattan.  This is a two block long 100+ year old nondescript red brick warehouse building which has survived to house a dozen or so artisan cooks/producers/chefs who have stalls or kitchens flanking either side of a cement walk leading back into the bowels of the building  where the TV Food Network has their studios.

One of my favorite pics from my trip to Chelsea Market:

post-27-1137298985_thumb.jpg

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I wonder if Hale and Hearty franchises?

The +1 and I wondered the same thing after sampling their wares on our recent trip to NYC (you can see my post under that subject). Unfortunately, we didn't get to try the original Soup Kitchen International, as it was closed for refurbs while we were in town... but we did notice the sign about franchising on its front window.

Tysons, eh? I wonder if they're sliding them into a slot in the food court - last time we were at Tysons, there was still one slot left unfinished.

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Tysons, eh? I wonder if they're sliding them into a slot in the food court - last time we were at Tysons, there was still one slot left unfinished.

This place is going to suck in no uncertain terms. Remember I said this in two years - today's date is January 15, 2006.

Cheers,

Rocks

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This place is going to suck in no uncertain terms.  Remember I said this in two years - today's date is January 15, 2006. 

Cheers,

Rocks

I have to confess I was a little concerned to see salads and whatnot listed. I mean, I thought the entire point of SKI was that it was all soup, all the time. I have to admit, though, if they're going to make a serious effort at enforcing "the rules", that I anticipate comedy on par with a 1930s William Powell vehicle.

The franchise menu concept, in fact, sounds suspiciously similar to that of Hale & Hearty. Not to trade-redress level mind you, but similar enough that I don't see how they could work it into a food court layout. It'd run the same problem Five Guys already has with backups, only worse.

Edited by Principia
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you know, I probably spend more time defending JoeH than I should,but usually he has somsthing worthwhile to say. This sounds more like a PR post than anything.

Joe, you're letting me down.

The Breadline is the only place that comes to mind in the D. C. area that is even remotely like this. I mention Hale and Hearty because it is what I went to; I have not been to the Original Soupman but its history intrigues me. If it is in the foodcourt at Tyson's it won't have the "personality" that I would otherwise expect elsewhere. That is why I mentioned Old Town, etc.

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Well?

It sucks. You are a brilliant soothsayer and all should bow in your presence for predicting a chain whose claim to fame is selling soups that are full of frozen vegetables and processed protein was going to be bad.

You happy? :P

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It sucks. You are a brilliant soothsayer and all should bow in your presence for predicting a chain whose claim to fame is selling soups that are full of frozen vegetables and processed protein was going to be bad.

You happy? :P

Just another example of taking something very good (maybe great, I was never at the original) and really (*&^% it up.

Just before the holiday's during the first freezing spell I was in Princeton, NJ and a Soupman was on the same street as my hotel. It was freezing and soup sounded GREAT, I was really looking forward this.My first time that I was in a soupman, Well - It REALLY SUCKED - Flavored water with obviously processed over cooked seafood pieces with a piece of hard (not crusty but just hard) bread.

I was reading a framed writeup on the wall from when the place opened up two years ago and the owner's said "Nothing is made on premises", everything comes trucked in from our quality controlled corporate kitchen??? - They sounded like they were proud of the fact that nothing was fresh!

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Hale and Hearty, which this original thread was about two years ago, is outstanding. The Original Soup Man prostituted himself when he expanded without limiting where his soup might be sold; thus it ended up in a frozen custard stand at Tyson's where you eat on a formica table in the middle of a food court. I should have known the Soup Man had truly sold out when, after calling the corporate number for information, was put on a weekly e-mail list. They're aggressive. Finally, a year or so ago I stopped at the Frozen Custard counter at Tyson's and had a bowl of soup with a stale roll and a banana for something like $6 or 7 dollars.

Certainly no one ever stood in line in Manhattan for this. Nor did or would anyone stand in line in Northern Virginia. It just wasn't very good.

I continue to wait for Hale and Hearty to franchise...or open an outpost here. I've now been to four or five of their stores in New York and they are indeed excellent. Hale and Hearty. http://www.haleandhearty.com/ And, whatever comes here: please, there has got to be some atmosphere in your store to compliment what you serve. The Chelsea Market was fine. A starbucks like setting, too; even Old Town with brick walls, beamed ceilings and a stone floor-but not formica and tile. This doesn't work no matter how good the soup is.

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